Danny Yee >> Bushwalking & Travel >> South Iceland

Þórsmörk (Thorsmork)

Leaving the flatter region around Fimmvörðuháls Pass, there opened out before us the dramatic view over Goðaland - "land of the Gods" - and Þórsmörk - "the woods of Thor". In the foreground were the peak Utigönguhöfði and the plateau Morinsheiði, behind that were rugged valleys and serried volcano-shaped peaks. It was very Tolkienesque. There was a little bit of cloud, but it came and went and probably enhanced the views more than it detracted from them.

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Utigönguhöfði
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Morinsheiði

We made our way down pebbly hillsides and negotiated the saddle across to Morinsheiði, on top of which is a barren stony desert. Looking back on either side were views of waterfalls and glaciers.

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southeast: glaciers and waterfalls
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Camilla crossing the saddle onto Morinsheiði
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west: a glacial valley

Descending the other side, we continued down the convoluted and sometimes knife-edge ridge Strákagil towards the valley floor. It got progressively greener as we descended: the first tree was a notable event, and further down it was almost a forest. And there was an amazing variety of large fungi that demanded photographing - see the separate flora page for some photos.

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the ridge descending to Þórsmörk
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the first tree for many miles
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reaching the valley - a welcome toilet

Camilla was pleased to find a toilet when we reached the flat floodplain; it was then only a short distance to the hut Basar, which we reached at 1pm. We'd started the trip thinking we had to reach the further hut Husadalur by 3.30pm, but had then been told by people we passed that the bus came to Basar at 1.30 - and the hut warden reassured us that that was the case, so we had just enough time for our usual ryvita and tuna lunch.

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Basar hut
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our bus
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the Krossá floodplain

The river Krossá looks innocuous, but despite the flatness of the valley and the widely spread braided streams, it's fast-moving and dangerous. Some sections were quite exciting even in the four-wheel-drive bus, though the driver obviously knew the route very well. Half way across we picked up a young German woman who had foolishly taken off her boots and tried to walk across barefoot - her feet were bruised and bleeding and she was in a bad way.

The bus went around the long way to Husadalur, where it would wait until 3.30pm before leaving, so we left our packs with it and took the opportunity to do the easy (touristy) walk through the woods to meet it there. It started raining near the end, and we were glad to reach the cafe and have hot chocolates. (Þórsmörk is a popular weekend outing from Reykjavik and Husadalur is a small complex of buildings rather than a hut.)

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Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk: The amazing thing is that, fantastic as it is, the two day walk we had just done is usually an optional "extra" added onto the four day walk from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk, which is the best known walk in Iceland. That must be pretty spectacular, and I plan to come back and do it one day.

The bus from Þórsmörk was almost full. The bus driver gave us a bit of commentary on the landscape: a glacial tongue of the Eyjafjallajökull icecap and its terminal lake, the "little demon" and "big demon" hills standing above the Markarfljót floodplain, Canyon River falls and Seljalandsfoss. Reaching the coast there was a view of the Vestmannaeyjar islands, which as a result of some strange optical effect looked really close.

Getting off at Hvolsvöllur, we had some time before the bus for Skógar arrived. We failed to find the Saga Centre (which would have been shut anyway) but stocked up on food in the supermarket and had dinner in the service station restaurant - sharing lamb cutlets, soup, coffee, and a soft drink set us back 1700 króna. When the bus dropped us off at Skógar in light rain, we were glad to see our little car again - and who should we run into setting up camp but Anka! She was soaked and had had a damp day walking down the Skóga.

Next: Vik i Myrdal + the Mýrdalssandur
Previous: Fimmvörðuháls Pass

[Alternative spellings: Thorsmork, Fimmvorduhals, Krossa]

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